Travelling with the Doctor is mad, wonderful...and most definitely not a fairytale. Following the shattering loss of Mickey, Rose immerses herself in Disney movies and the Doctor tries desperately to shake her out of funk by taking her to Hal Fador. Happiness, after all, can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light... 2,795 words
They managed to stay at the Powell Estate for almost a week before the Doctor started going a touch mad.
Not a lot mind you, just a little bit. Just, you know. Quietly muttering to himself about this and that. Pacing from one end of the flat to the other. Making endless cups of tea and then scaring the hell out of Jackie by popping up unexpectedly from behind the couch or around a corner talking a mile a minute...yeah he was going just a little bit stir crazy.
In all honesty though he just couldn’t help himself. He was bored. He had itchy feet. He needed something – anything to happen. And going on long fruitless walks hadn’t done him any good because unfortunately there were only so many paths you could take around the Estate before they led you right back to where you started. It was utterly maddening.
Perhaps if he had actually been secretly undercover sussing out an alien threat, or even hunting for parts for the TARDIS... As it was, he was beginning to see alien entities in teacups and hear them scuttling about in the walls. (Jackie said it was just the rats but the Doctor knew – rats didn’t sound like that.)
And as for Rose...well Rose was rapidly sliding back into a frighteningly domestic state. She had been having a Disney marathon all week which the Doctor normally wouldn’t have minded at all (who didn’t love a good Walt Disney flick from time to time?) but after a whole week of singing animals and damsels in distress...
Again with the pacing and the cups of tea and scaring the ever living hell out of Jackie.
The TARDIS wasn’t helping either, having provided Rose with copies of every Disney tape, DVD and data file she had onboard. A week in and it didn’t seem like it was ever going to end. Rose had spent the majority of her time curled up on her mother’s couch in her pyjamas whilst the Doctor reeled about in circles and tried desperately to not turn himself inside out from sheer madness.
And it wasn’t even like he could talk to Rose about her sudden attachment to her mother’s couch or the fact that she was speaking mostly in monosyllables. Not only did he have no idea how to get the ball rolling, Jackie kept on shooing him off whenever he looked like he was about to try and start a conversation with her daughter. Maddening! To be shushed by the likes of Jackie Tyler! Nobody shushed him and got away with it.
He was actually grumbling over Jackie’s latest bout of shushing when he came up with the perfect way in which to get Rose back into gear. She had just started a new DVD and was settling in to watch when Jackie wandered in and cast a scrutinising glance at the television.
“Don’t think I’ve seen this one,” she said mildly, picking up one of the Doctor’s many abandoned cups of tea off the coffee table, inspecting it briefly before taking a cautious sip. “Is it a new one?”
“It’s from the future,” the Doctor piped up from the corner where he was slowly disassembling TV remote with his sonic screwdriver. “The very near future in fact so make sure you don’t go around showing it to anybody else. We don’t need to accidentally create a paradox around a Disney movie. Or a lawsuit for that matter.”
“No need to get your knickers in a twist Mr. Cranky-pants,” Jackie looked down her nose, unimpressed, at the mess he was making. “Is my remote still going to work when you’ve finished with it?”
“If you’re lucky.”
Jackie looked even more displeased. “Knows a bit too much about Disney movies this one,” she said critically before taking a sip of her tea and amending herself. “Makes a reasonable cuppa at least.”
The Doctor merely grumbled in response and Jackie disappeared to do whatever it was she did during the day, puttering about the flat. Rose watched the movie silently, occasionally rustling slightly as she readjusted her position on the couch. The Doctor continued to tinker, vaguely following along with the familiar plot of Tangled. It hadn’t ever been a particular favourite of his, but watching the exploits of Flynn and Rapunzel he felt a sudden and surprising wave of nostalgia.
He missed Rose. Almost painfully so considering she was sitting just across the room but completely out of reach. She was exactly the sort of girl who would fight somebody off with a frying pan he thought, smiling. Always raring to go on an adventure, brave as anything and endlessly compassionate – The kind who saw the best in everybody and hoped, always hoped even when the world was at its bleakest or people seemed at their worst.
Right now that girl seemed to have disappeared entirely. Or at the very least she was hiding herself very well underneath a pile of lumpy blankets. But as the Doctor watched the movie progress, watched Rose watching the movie he was struck by a sudden and brilliant idea to get her out of her rut.
“Jackie. We’re out of milk.” The Doctor announced casually from the kitchen and Jackie’s voice immediately resounded tartly from the living room.
“Oh we are are we? Suppose you want me to go out and get some more do you?”
“Well,” the Doctor said, leaning around the door frame. “Yes. That would be helpful.”
Jackie, of course, grumbled. “Well why don’t you go?”
The Doctor raised his eyebrows innocently. “Who’s going to fix your remote if I go out to buy milk?”
Rose, he noticed, had the tiniest smile at the corner of her mouth as Jackie collected her purse and grumbled her way out of the door. The moment her mother was gone he all but scrambled to join Rose on the couch. His timing, as always, had been impeccable. The scene he had been waiting for was very close. Pleased, he settled in to watch.
“You haven’t seen this one before have you?” he said presently, nudging Rose’s shoulder gently with his own. Beside him, she shook her head and then, for the first time in days, she spoke to him. Properly spoke to him.
“Rapunzel was always my favourite when I was little.”
The Doctor was delighted. After days of two and three word sentences this was nothing short of a miracle.
“Mmmn hmmn.” Rose refolded her legs underneath herself and, after a moment, leant into him. She felt brittle and delicate against him, her emotional state so obviously fragile that the Doctor almost stopped himself then and there. He didn’t often try to reach out to Rose telepathically, always worried that she might somehow slip past his defences like Reinette had done and discover parts of his mind he would rather stay hidden. But with the scramble that she was in at the moment he couldn’t help but try and soothe her.
Sliding an arm around behind the tension in her shoulders he was surprised to feel her relax almost instantaneously.
“Girl stuck up in a tower all her life,” Rose said suddenly and the Doctor blinked before realising that she was continuing on from her previous thought. “Prince comes along and helps get her out. They ride off and live happily ever after.”
“Disney doesn’t do it quite the same,” the Doctor said, nodding towards the TV. “It’s pretty though.”
“It is,” Rose said vaguely, the scene that had just started playing seeming to have captured her attention instead and the Doctor smiled indulgently as the screen lit up with a thousand computer generated lanterns. There was no denying it was a beautiful spectacle – and animated well enough for the technological constraints of the time. Rose’s eyes were all but glowing as the scene progressed and as the music swelled with a gentle strings crescendo he put his mouth next to her ear.
“Did you know that there’s a real place where they do this every year?” he murmured and Rose unconsciously leant in closer, trying desperately to divide her attentions equally between the movie and him. “Just a little seaside town settled in a quiet bay. You’d love it Rose – lanterns in every colour of the rainbow and the water just like one vast mirror. Everything so still and peaceful, just the lightest touch of wind to lift them up...”
Rose took in a shaky breath and her eyelids fluttered shut, imagining it.
“I could take you there,” he continued in a hushed voice, daring to lean his forehead against her temple for a moment and soothe away the tangle of painful emotions that she was working to suppress even now. “To see the lanterns of Hal Fador. Would you like that?”
Rose turned to him, lids flickering open. They were almost nose to nose and her eyes were glowing bright and wide and hopeful.
“Yeah.” She whispered.
They went with Rose still in her pyjamas. The night wasn’t cold but he gave her his coat anyway just in case it was nippy when they were out on the water.
“You know how to work one of these things?” Rose asked dubiously when he commandeered a small boat to take them out but the Doctor merely eyed her incredulously.
“What’s a row boat to a TARDIS?” he said loftily, however it took a bit of help from Rose too in the end before they managed to get to the middle of the bay.
The view was stunning even without the lanterns – a vast sheet of midnight blue glass undisturbed by anything save the sparkling of millions of stars and the lights from the town on the hill.
Rose huddled down into his coat though it wasn’t cold and eyed the view in quiet awe. “S’beautiful,” she said softly. “Just like the movie.”
“Reminds me a bit of Hogwarts,” the Doctor admitted absently and Rose chuckled.
“S’pose you’ll be telling me you had J.K. Rowling and somebody from Disney out here on a boat before me.”
“Surprisingly enough,” the Doctor said dryly. “I haven’t influenced every literary great from Earth.”
“Seems like it sometimes.” Rose let out a quiet, contented sigh and folded her arms, leaning forward over the water whilst they waited for the lights. The Doctor said nothing, just watched her as she absently floated a leaf back and forth in the water and waited.
She was still absorbed in her task when the first lantern rose up high above the city – the reflection of its golden light gleaming on the dark water like a beacon.
“Rose,” the Doctor called and when she looked up, startled out of her thoughts, he pointed.
There were more lanterns rising now, hundreds upon hundreds of them in every shade and hue imaginable and Rose sat up to see them better, looking around as they drifted down the hill and across the water until their little boat was surrounded with a pastel carnival of colour and light.
If her eyes had glowed when watching the movie it was nothing compared to what she looked like now, surrounded on all sides by the warm, flickering light of the real thing.
“It is a bit fairytale isn’t it?” the Doctor grinned as he looked around. When he chanced a look back at Rose however, she was suddenly looking sad all over again.
“S’great,” she said, but her eyes were glossing over now and he knew he had lost her again. He wilted slightly as he watched her hunch back into herself and then felt a wave of irrational anger at his own failure. What the hell use was the whole of time and space if he couldn’t even make Rose feel better?
He’d only felt this helpless once before, after they left her dying father behind. She’d been broken up about it for so long that he’d begun to fear that she might ask to go home for good. But Rose of course had never asked to go home, just kept on travelling with him until the sadness behind her eyes faded.
Maybe that’s all she needed this time too. He hoped it was at least.
“Rose?” he pressed gently and she reluctantly met his eyes and offered a sad quirk of her lips.
“Doesn’t feel much like a fairytale right now.” She admitted and the Doctor hesitated before nodding his understanding.
“Real life seldom does.” He offered apologetically and Rose hunkered down into her seat a little more before seemingly changing her mind. The Doctor had to work to hide his surprise as she clambered across the boat to sit beside him so that they could look out at lanterns together.
“Think I’m starting to get it.” She admitted, tilting her head back to admire the view better. The Doctor looked at her instead, intrigued by the sudden change in his companion’s demeanour. “Why you’re so...you.”
“Yeah.” Rose affirmed, eyes trained on a particularly errant lantern that was floating down towards them. There was a long moment of suspense when the lantern seemed to wobble in the air...then they both reached out at the same time to guide it back into the air, their hands touching. A breathless laugh escaped Rose at that and as she continued speaking she pressed her hand into his and twined their fingers.
“When you’re travelling it seems like its all fun – you know? New places and people and all that. And then you lose somebody and s’like...” she faltered to a stop and the Doctor instantly squeezed her hand. Beside him he felt Rose take in a steadying breath before continuing on again. “I thought leaving Jack behind was bad. I never thought...I mean I always figured Mickey would be around. I never even thought about a life without him in it.”
She paused then and gave a mirthless, teary laugh. “Now I can’t stop thinking about it! All those years growing up together, watching stupid kid’s movies and playing at being superheroes and fairy book people and all the things we thought we’d be. Never thought we’d end up like this. I thought he’d always be there.”
Around their boat the remaining lanterns swirled and eddied in a sudden updraft of air. Some of the lights were beginning to burn out now, or be smothered in the water and Rose shivered, drawing into the Doctor’s side as ripples spread out across the darkening water.
“Is that what it’s like for you?” her voice came again, quietly muffled, from his shoulder. “The people you’ve travelled with – Sarah-Jane and all the others. All that time all the history you have with them then they’re just...?”
“People come and go,” the Doctor told her carefully. “Some stay longer than others. And they always leave a mark in one way or another. It’s just a matter of whether you choose to lament the fact that they’re gone or celebrate the time you had with them.”
Rose nodded against his shoulder and gave a quiet snuffle.
“You still miss them?”
“Every one of them.”
The Doctor couldn’t help but smile a little at that. “Even him yeah.”
Rose nodded again and leant her cheek on his shoulder.
“Will you miss me when I’m gone?”
The Doctor pulled back to look her in the eye and Rose gazed up at him with a depth of solemnity he rarely saw from her. In her eyes the muted glow from one of the final lanterns reflected back and picked up hints of gold.
“Yes.” He said. A simple and unequivocal answer. And just like that, all of the brittleness that Rose had been carrying in her body left her and she leant into him with a rush of relief so strong that he felt it without even having to touch her mind.
They rowed back to shore by the light of the few remaining lanterns but just as they were about to climb back into the TARDIS Rose paused with her hand on the Doctor’s arm.
“So where should we go next?” she queried, eyes fixed on the stars – the only light that was left in the absence of the lanterns.
The Doctor considered the heavens for a moment.
“Disneyland?” he suggested.
Rose looked at him in surprise. And then she opened her mouth and laughed. And laughed and laughed until she cried and he had to help her into the TARDIS because she was laughing so hard and so much.
Their life together may not have been a fairytale, but for now at least this life was theirs, they had each other and that was all he really cared about.